Global Warming — Familiar Places Could Disappear, Says Union of Concerned Scientists Report

There is spirited debate in the corporate community and among capital market players:  Is global warming occurring…what are the causes (if so)…and can anything be done by the private sector and governments to mitigate the effects if our planet is heating up?  The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) was careful in reminding corporate boards a few years ago to pay closer attention to downside “risk,” and upside opportunities related to climate change.  In specific terms, “global warming” was not included in the staff interpretation to corporate issuers.

Other organizations can be much less politically correct — and more strident in the “warnings” — like the Union of Concerned Scientists (USC), which looks to put the issue in more familiar (and anxiety-raising) terms. Like, for example, as the USC believes, the Ellis Island national park in New York Harbor at some point being underwater. Or the glorious glaciers in Glacier National Park (USA) virtually disappearing.  (Citing there were 125 glaciers there a century ago; now there are 25 or so.)

The Union of Concerned Scientists has a report out now on “National Landmarks at Risk” — you can read highlights at: http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/global_warming/National-Landmarks-at-Risk-Executive-Summary.pdf

Blogger Pallavia Thakur posted a video interpretation of the USC’s “top 10″ prominent landmarks that the UCS identified in the report.

The organization sees as threatened the American Everglades in Florida, the nation of the Maldive Islands, and more.  See our Top Story for his blog post and the link to a fascinating YouTube video presentation (7 minutes).  This approach (with professionally produced video, voice over) no doubt is designed to help UCS make the “global warming case” for the consumer audience.  It’s important that corporate managers and capital market players tune in to these kinds of arguments about climate change and the potential “dire effects.”

As our G&A Institute team analyzes the dramatically increasing flow of corporate sustainability, responsibility, corporate citizenship, and environmental disclosures and reports coming from a wide range of public companies, it’s clear that the corporate leaders in the reporting practice are skilled at presenting their views on climate change.  And where they stand in terms of risk and opportunity — often citing competitive advantage.

The peers of leadership companies that are not reporting are at risk of falling further behind in addressing the climate change concerns and expectations of their stakeholders.  You know, those who may be watching the UCS video on YouTube (as you can see in the story link below — do watch).

Climate change — whatever the corporate community view – -the issues are being effectively addressed by a growing number of thoughtful boards, C-suite and managerial teams, as we see every day in our research efforts.

10 Places that could disappear due to Global Warming
(Wednesday - August 19, 2015) Associated Profiles : Union of Concerned Scientists
Source:  Speaking Tree - According to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), there are many national parks and landmarks under serious threat from climate change, so much so that they will be irreparably…

The Phases of the Corporate Sustainability Journey — An Author’s Viewpoints Shared

As more corporate enterprises launch their sustainability journey — or enhance the journey as it matures — the internal discussions are increasingly around: “Where do we go from here?”  “What are the stakeholders’ expectations?”  “What are our peers doing?”  “What are the best practices for our company?”

Guest author Darcy Hitchcock on the Triple Pundit platform attempts to answer some of the questions raised and sets out what she sees as three distinct phases of the journey for your consideration:

  • Phase 1.0:  Eco-efficiencies & Risk Reduction
  • 2.0:  Competitive Advantage
  • 3.0: Reinvention & Regeneration

Three Phases of Sustainability: Where is Your Organization?
(Monday - August 10, 2015)
Source: Triple Pundit - Organizations usually go through phases when implementing sustainability practices. Understanding where your organization is in the process can help you foresee upcoming challenges and avoid overstating your progress…

She describes the typical activities in each phase and shares examples of company actions (Nike and CSR pioneer Ray Anderson and his firm, Interface).  Frameworks CDP and The Natural Step are referenced. The commentary is adopted from the author’s book, Great Work: 12 Principles for Your Work Life and Life’s Work.  Interesting take on sustainability journeys.

In our work at G&A Institute, we have conversations every week with company sustainability teams to discuss their specific journey.  Company culture matters a great deal in what is being done and can be done — depending (importantly) on senior management decision-making.

Companies are paying serious attention to the peers’ sustainability journeys and the rising expectations of the investment community, and the customer requests for information as part of their supply chain evaluation — and those third parties have great impact on a particular company’s strategies, actions and policies for the journey.

What are your views on the elements or phases of the corporate sustainability journey?  What are you seeing?  Send us a note!

Reporting 2025 – Perspectives: Interview with Katherine Smith, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship (Video Interview #12)

The GRI global organization is conducting a series of interviews with thought leaders to gain their perspectives on what they expect the main issues to be on corporate agendas and their public reports in 2025.  These are produced monthly and G&A Institute will share these through our websites, newsletters, blog, social media, and various other channels to raise awareness of this important initiative.

Interview with Katherine Smith, Executive Director, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship
See also the interview summary
18 August 2015

Special Focus: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan

The big news while you may have been away on vacation or sunning at the beach:  President Barack Obama has unveiled the final version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) rules. The new regulations will  provide the framework for individual U.S. states to meet emissions-reduction goals in their electricity service area.

The new rules are described as the “Clean Power Plan,” designed to reduce “carbon pollution” from electric-generation power plants.  States will be able to customize their plans to reach carbon reduction goals. There’s a slew of resources for you at the U.S. EPA web site:  http://www2.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan/clean-power-plan-existing-power-plants

Below are the headlines from Reuters and others as the announcement was coming:

Obama’s climate plan seeks to slash emissions from power plants
(Monday - August 03, 2015)
Source: Reuters - The White House said it will launch the first ever rule on Monday to cut carbon emissions from power plants, a plan that opponents in the coal industry and their political allies will fight in the courts. In a fact sheet issued…

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Seen Wiping Out High-Cost Coal
(Tuesday - August 04, 2015)
Source: Bloomberg - Coal producers strapped with high costs and debt are headed for extinction under President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

UN Chief Welcomes Climate Change Plan Unveiled By President Obama
(Tuesday - August 04, 2015) Associated Profiles : United Nations – All Programs
Source: Silicon India - United Nations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the Clean Power Plan formally unveiled today by President Barack Obama, saying it shows the determination of the United States to address…

Things Every American Should Know About the Clean Power Plan
(Tuesday - August 04, 2015)
Source: US EPA - President Obama will unveil the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Clean Power Plan—a historic step to cut the carbon pollution driving climate change. Here are six key things every American should know

Three charts explaining Obama’s energy regulations
(Tuesday - August 04, 2015)
Source: CNBC - President Barack Obama on Monday debuted sweeping regulations meant to address the growing threat of climate change. The new rules would significantly reduce climate-changing emissions from U.S. power plants and push the nation’s…

Coal companies have been scorched under Obama
(Tuesday - August 04, 2015)
Source: CNN Money - Companies have struggled for five years in an environment of strict regulation and low prices, along with a host of poorly-timed mergers. Alpha Natural Resources (ANRZ) filed for bankruptcy on Monday, becoming the latest coal…

U.S. Emissions Rules Give Paris Climate Change Talks a Boost
(Thursday – August 06, 2015)
Source: World Politics Review - On Monday, President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) rules. The new regulations, a tweak to initial rules that had been released in June 2014, are meant to…